The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Abortion subpoenas:
Playing politics with women's lives

Feb 16, 2004

The Justice Department is demanding that at least six university hospitals in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Ann Arbor, Michigan, turn over all patient medical records involving certain doctors who performed abortions there in the last three years.

This is nothing but retaliation for lawsuits brought by these same doctors, who are fighting the new so-called "Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act," which bars them from performing a medically necessary abortion procedure, intact dilation and curettage.

This procedure is performed only in cases of medical necessity. It is performed late in a pregnancy, a time which the law already makes clear is already reserved only for medically necessary abortions, those attempting to save the life or prevent permanent damage to the health of the woman. It's performed only when all other alternatives are even more risky.

The new law banning this procedure may well be thrown out – for the same reason all prior versions of it have been: since it gives no allowances for the health or well-being of the woman, it would condemn the women who need this procedure to death or permanent health problems.

So what if the law won't stand up in court? Ashcroft is using it today to tie doctors up in legal actions, costing them time and money for years to come. He's betting that more doctors will decide it's not worth the hassle to perform what is, today, a legal procedure in all 50 states.

Ashcroft is acting in the same way as those who have killed doctors for performing abortions, and those who have harassed doctors and their patients seeking abortions. Just as they have made it exceedingly difficult if not impossible to find a doctor willing to perform ordinary abortions in many parts of the country, this legal action by Ashcroft is an attempt to further intimidate doctors who are ready to perform this difficult and life-saving procedure.

For the sake of political gain, Ashcroft – and the Bush administration – are condemning women to death or permanent health damage.

And they have the gall to stand up and call themselves the guardians of morality!